Engine knocking | Factors affecting knocking in SI engines

Engine knocking | Factors affecting knocking in SI engines

The various engine variables affecting knocking can be classified as:

  • Temperature factors
  • Density factors
  • Time factors
  • Composition factors


Increasing the temperature of the unburned mixture increase the possibility of knock in the SI engine we shall now discuss the effect of following engine parameters on the temperature of the unburned mixture:

i. Raising the Compression Ratio

Increasing the compression ratio increases both the temperature and pressure (density of the unburned mixture). Increase in temperature reduces the delay period of the end gas which in turn increases the tendency to knock.


It also increases both temperature and density, which increase the knocking tendency of engine

iii.Coolant Temperature

Delay period decreases with increase of coolant temperature, decreased delay period increase the tendency to knock

iv.Temperature Of The Cylinder And Combustion Chamber Walls :

The temperature of the end gas depends on the design of combustion chamber. Sparking plug and exhaust valve are two hottest parts in the combustion chamber and uneven temperature leads to pre-ignition and hence the knocking.


Increasing the density of unburnt mixture will increase the possibility of knock in the engine. The engine parameters which affect the density are as follows:

  • Increased compression ratio increase the density
  • Increasing the load opens the throttle valve more and thus the density
  • Supercharging increase the density of the mixture
  • Increasing the inlet pressure increases the overall pressure during the cycle.
    The high pressure end gas decreases the delay period which increase the tendency of knocking.
  • Advanced spark timing: quantity of fuel burnt per cycle before and after TDC position depends on spark timing. The temperature of charge increases by increasing the spark advance and it increases with rate of burning and does not allow sufficient time to the end mixture to dissipate the heat and increase the knocking tendency
engine knocking
engine knocking


Increasing the time of exposure of the unburned mixture to auto-ignition conditions increase the possibility of knock in SI engines.

i. Flame travel distance:

If the distance of flame travel is more, then possibility of knocking is also more. This problem can be solved by combustion chamber design, spark plug location and engine size. Compact combustion chamber will have better anti-knock characteristics, since the flame travel and combustion time will be shorter. Further, if the combustion chamber is highly turbulent, the combustion rate is high and consequently combustion time is further reduced; this further reduces the tendency to knock.

ii.Location of sparkplug:

A spark plug which is centrally located in the combustion chamber has minimum tendency to knock as the flame travel is minimum. The flame travel can be reduced by using two or more spark plugs.

iii.Location of exhaust valve:

The exhaust valve should be located close to the spark plug so that it is not in the end gas region; otherwise there will be a tendency to knock.

iv.Engine size

Large engines have a greater knocking tendency because flame requires a longer time to travel across the combustion chamber. In SI engine therefore, generally limited to 100 mm

v.Turbulence of mixture

Decreasing the turbulence of the mixture decreases the flame speed and hence increases the tendency to knock. Turbulence depends on the design of combustion chamber and one engine speed.


i. Molecular Structure

The knocking tendency is markedly affected by the type of the fuel used. Petroleum fuels usually consist of many hydro-carbons of different molecular structure. The structure of the fuel molecule has enormous effect on knocking tendency. Increasing the carbon-chain increases the knocking tendency and centralizing the carbon atoms decreases the knocking tendency. Unsaturated hydrocarbons have less knocking tendency than saturated hydrocarbons.

ii.Fuel-air ratio:

The most important effect of fuel-aft ratio is on the reaction time or ignition delay. When the mixture is nearly 10% richer than stoichiometric (fuel-air ratio =0.08) ignition lag of the end gas is minimum and the velocity of flame propagation is maximum. By making the mixture leaner or richer (than F/A 0.08) the tendency to knocks decreased. A too rich mixture is especially effective in decreasing or eliminating the knock due to longer delay and lower temperature of compression.

iii.Humidity of air:

Increasing atmospheric humidity decreases the tendency to knock by decreasing the reaction time of the fuel

More Resources : 

IC Engine Articles , Notes , Question and Answer

Mechanical Subjectwise Basic Concept Notes ,Articles



Sachin Thorat

Sachin is a B-TECH graduate in Mechanical Engineering from a reputed Engineering college. Currently, he is working in the sheet metal industry as a designer. Additionally, he has interested in Product Design, Animation, and Project design. He also likes to write articles related to the mechanical engineering field and tries to motivate other mechanical engineering students by his innovative project ideas, design, models and videos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts